We’re enjoying our “Spring Semester Staff Retreat” this week. Never mind the fact that it happens to take place in the winter (not very “Spring”-like). Never mind the fact that 85 percent of our meetings happen in our own homes (not very “Retreat”-like). We hang our hats on those other words: “Staff” and “Semester,” which hold true. Our team appreciates the chance to spend time together and prepare for a new semester of ministry.
We started with building one another up.
The first thing that we did was an exercise in encouragement. We “spotlighted” each person on our staff team for a ten-minute block of time. And this is where meeting on Zoom proved advantageous. The first five minutes, the spotlighted person was responsible for inventing a humorous “Call Sign” for later in the afternoon. And the rest of the team split into “Breakout Rooms” with 3-4 people in each group, thinking and talking together about the person in the spotlight.
In the first Breakout Room, people discussed the question, “How has the person “motivated (you) to love and good works?” (referring to a passage from Hebrews 10). In Room 2, the prompt was, “What are three words that describe the person?” And in Room 3, teammates discussed: “What Staff Superlative would the person receive?” (in the style of a high school yearbook or the “Dundee” awards from The Office). It was really fun: both as the spotlighted person and as the teams conferring on ways to celebrate and affirm the spotlighted person.
It took the whole morning to work through our whole team. But it really did feel like time well spent. Our hearts were full. Then we had to take a break to fill our bellies and drive to the afternoon location for our Staff Retreat activities: TPA Paintball in Alliance, Ohio.
That’s where we switched to taking one another down.
The best part about the afternoon paintball session is that we were able to forget about COVID for awhile. Paintball happens to be an outdoor activity where face coverings are required and it’s strategically-significant to stay six feet apart from each other. Even when there’s not a pandemic! We had so much fun blasting each other with colorful paintballs (even though I got blasted a lot more than I blasted others). And even though it was technically a “war game,” with half of the staff team pitted against the other half, still it felt like a bonding experience. We’ve been “dodging bullets” and figuring things out “in the trenches” together all year, since the pandemic started. And I’m convinced that we’re coming out of things stronger.